Is it possible to keep one’s skin as healthy and as supple as the skin one was born with?
With proper intervention designed to “wake up” sleeping skin cells, Los Angeles-based dermatologist Zein Obagi, recent guest of Dr. Vicki Belo, says it’s possible.
“Before Dr. Obagi came into the scene, dermatologists were focused on treating skin diseases,” said Belo, owner of Belo Medical Group (BMG). “He revolutionized our thinking by saying that dermatologists are primarily in charge of skin health. With proper nutrition and exercise of skin cells, we could keep our skin healthy, firm, bright, disease-free and looking young well into our 80s.”
In an informal talk that doubled as product launch for ZO Skin Health Solutions at Shangri-La Makati’s Rizal ballroom, the so-called “guru of skin health” shared his “comprehensive” and multi-pronged approach to skincare designed to address youthful, mature and even aging skin.
He emphasized the importance of a product advanced enough to penetrate skin beyond the surface and down to the cellular level. The objective, he said, is to wake up “sleeping” skin cells, which tend to go to sleep as a person ages, and stimulate faster cellular renewal through such natural substances as “active” vitamin A in the form of retinoic acid.
Topical moisturizers, he said, can only do so much. They can even cause dryness and breakouts if overdone.
“Moisturizers just slow down all forms of skin activity,” said Obagi. “They feel and smell good when you first apply them, but after a while, your skin goes to sleep. They don’t work anymore.”
In the course of his research, he also found out that Asian skin tend to react more badly to certain skin diseases like acne.
“Asian skin is no different from any other skin,” he said. “But it reacts to acne in the worst way, leaving tell-tale signs like scars and dark spots.”
The ZO line designed for young skin can reportedly help prevent acne before it even starts to appear. Obagi even went as far as to formulate a skincare regimen—consisting of basic washing, scrubbing and wiping away excess oil—to kids as young as 10 before their “hormones start to kick in” and produce unsightly pimples, whiteheads and blackheads.
The programs are generally divided into daily skincare (for young skin); anti-aging skincare (for mature skin or people in their late 30s, 40s and even 50s); and aggressive anti-aging skincare (for senior citizens or those with damaged and aging skin).
All skincare regimens, by the way, are subject to the supervision of an Obagi-certified dermatologist. The ZO product line (which is available at all BMG clinics) consists of such basic items as exfoliating cleanser, exfoliating polish, daily power defense and sunscreen, which are applicable to all age groups.
For people with mature and damaged skin, Obagi has added several products to their respective programs to either arrest further deterioration of the skin or undo obvious damage caused by acne, sun exposure and various visible signs of aging.
Faster, more effective
One such potent product, as its name implies, is the Radical Night Repair Plus (for aging skin). Containing one percent retinol (based on Obagi’s studies, the skin can’t tolerate any amount higher than that), the product claims to stimulate cell activity and collagen and elastin formation in aged and UV-damaged skin “faster and more effectively” than any other anti-aging treatment.
“If you have damaged skin, and you want skin you had during birth, go for something radical,” said Obagi, who uses the product himself. “A radical problem requires a radical solution.”
But be prepared to experience temporary dryness, redness and peeling during the first few weeks of initial use. It only means that the product is working, as it get rids of old, damaged skin to eventually reveal new, younger-looking skin underneath.
“The recommended dose is four pumps of Radical on your face every night,” said Obagi. “I put on five pumps. You would look a bit red and feel some tingling during the first three to four days. You can stop using the product for a day or two and come back. As you go on, your skin would be able to eventually tolerate it.”
Obagi then went on to show before and after shots of female patients with varying ages, races and skin problems, who underwent one of three skincare regimens his clinic in LA offers.
The women’s skin in their “after” photos appeared brighter, smoother and firmer. Lines, wrinkles and uneven skin color caused by sunspots have been visibly reduced.
“I also know how Asians, whether in the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan or Korea, are so into whitening products,” said Obagi. “The daily defense is designed not only to smooth away wrinkles and fine lines, but also to brighten and give your skin an even tone. After using it, you won’t need anything else.”
Finally, he also emphasized the importance of putting on sunscreen, especially for people undergoing the Radical. But even if you apply sunscreen with the highest SPF, said Obagi, they tend to get wiped off your face in one to two hours.
“Based on previous studies, we found out that the incidence of sun damage continues to increase despite the availability of all those sunscreens,” he said. “There must be something wrong.”
Obagi and his team thus came up with their own sunscreen derived from melanin, a naturally occurring substance that protects every living being on earth, including plants. The darker a person is, the more melanin he has.
Without melanin, which all those whitening products try to suppress, people would be more vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays. Melanin reacts in various ways to the sun depending on the skin type, said Obagi. Some get a nice tan, while others become red or, worse, develop ugly spots.
“We’re introducing a novel concept in sun protection,” he added. “For the first time, we will use natural melanin derived from plants and aquamarine. Putting it on your face is like being under an umbrella that would continuously protect you for eight hours.”